Vancouver Outdoors

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Vancouver Outdoors
Vancouver and its surroundings offer activities galore for people who love being in nature. With hiking, kayaking, fishing, rock climbing, scuba diving, skiing, and snowboarding, there are almost too many adventures to choose from.
Photo courtesy of Clayton Perry/Tourism Vancouver
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    Vancouver’s Beaches
    Most people don't think of beaches when they imagine Vancouver, but the city's location along the Pacific Coast means many scenic shores. Second and Third Beaches within Stanley Park can be accessed by walking or biking along the seawall. Enjoy the gorgeous views of English Bay and then grab dinner on Denman Street. Kitsilano Beach, which features basketball and volleyball courts as well as a famous saltwater pool, is reachable by bike, bus, ferry, and car. For family-friendly beaches, go to Jericho Beach or Spanish Banks on Vancouver’s west side.
    Photo courtesy of Clayton Perry/Tourism Vancouver
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    Vancouver’s Green Spaces
    From world-famous Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park to the VanDusen Botanical Garden and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, travelers will fall in love with all of the green spaces in Vancouver. Round up the family and head to Capilano River Regional Park in North Vancouver to walk across the Cleveland Dam and visit the Capilano Salmon Hatchery. At Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, relax and watch boats sail past Point Atkinson Lighthouse. Plan a picnic at Queen Elizabeth Park then take a stroll through the rose garden and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory. Art lovers will enjoy the public sculptures installed at many parks throughout the city.
    Photo courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park/Tourism Vancouver
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    Outdoor Dining in Vancouver
    Vancouverites love being outdoors, even when they're dining. Have lunch under the sun on the patio at Dockside Restaurant and Brewing Company in Granville Island, and watch boats sail through False Creek. Sip a Caesar, a Canadian Bloody Mary with Clamato juice, at the Roof at Black and Blue, one of the few places where you can dine and drink at a higher elevation. If you prefer hops over spirits, order a local craft brew and people-watch at Chill Winston, which offers Gastown’s best patio. After a day of exploring at Stanley Park, enjoy a sunset meal on the patio at the Teahouse.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Outdoor Public Art
    Public art can be viewed all over Vancouver—in parks and gardens and around unassuming street corners. Take a picture with the Inukshuk on English Bay; stone structures like these were used by the Inuit people as communication tools and symbols of welcome. A handful of installations stand near the Vancouver Convention Centre. Check out Douglas Coupland’s Digital Orca, the cauldron from the 2010 Winter Olympics, and Inges Idee’s raindrop, which changes in different light. And be sure to stop by The Birds in Olympic Village—two sculptures of 18-foot sparrows that signify the introduction of non-native species. Vancouver also hosts its own Biennale art exhibition, featuring artists from all over the world.
    Photo by Round The World Arnette
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    Hiking in Vancouver
    Evergreens, waterfalls, lakes, and alpine views await hikers in Vancouver, whether novice or experienced. Besides the popular seawall, there are many other hikes that traverse Stanley Park. Pacific Spirit Regional Park near Wreck Beach offers more than 45 miles of trails. The North Shore has plenty of options for hikes, too, from Lighthouse Park and Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver to Capilano River Regional Park, Lynn Canyon, Mount Seymour, and Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. Head to Squamish, an hour north of Vancouver, for a trek up Stawamus Chief, known as the second largest granite monolith in the world. And farther north still is the limitless beauty of Whistler.
    Photo courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park/Tourism Vancouver
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    Vancouver on the Water
    Surrounded by ocean, rivers, and inlets, Vancouver is a water-focused city. Fishing enthusiasts can book a charter boat to learn about (and sometimes catch) regional salmon. Lovers of marine animals spot orcas and migrating gray whales on whale-watching tours that run from March through October. (Sometimes you can even see pods of whales while riding a ferry from the city to one of the Gulf Islands or Vancouver Island.) Those who prefer to captain their own boat should kayak from False Creek to English Bay or in Deep Cove, located in North Vancouver.
    Photo courtesy of Albert Normandin/Tourism Vancouver
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    Cycling Vancouver
    Riding a bicycle around Stanley Park is one of the most popular activities in Vancouver, but the city has plenty of other routes for two-wheelers. Ride west from English Bay until you reach Jericho or Spanish Banks beach. Cycling through the Richmond suburb is now easy thanks to the SkyTrain. Explore the neighborhood's flat streets and scenic areas like Iona Beach. If riding downhill and zipping through trees is more enticing, North Vancouver’s Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain are just two spots for mountain bikers. Once the snow melts, head farther north to Whistler Blackcomb, a ski resort turned biker's paradise famous for free riding and downhill trails as well as cycling events like Crankworx.
    Photo courtesy of Cycle City Tours/Tourism Vancouver
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    Extreme Adventures
    Thrill-seekers find plenty of extreme adventures in and around Vancouver. Soar over the city on a helicopter sightseeing tour, or visit Playland—Canada’s oldest amusement park—if you're traveling with children. (Be sure to ride the Wooden Roller Coaster and Wave Swinger for an old-school adrenaline rush.) For spectacular views, go zip-lining through the treetops or paragliding down Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. You can also zip-line near Cougar Mountain or bungee jump over the Cheakamus River for a real heart-pounding adventure in Whistler.
    Photo by Round The World Arnette
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    Vancouver Walking Tours
    A new crop of Vancouver tours have been a hit among locals and tourists. Book one of the many walking tour experiences to learn about the city’s rich history while strolling through a variety of eclectic neighborhoods. Beer enthusiasts will enjoy a trip with Vancouver Brewery Tours, which focuses on local craft brewers. Culture buffs should spend a day with the Tour Guys. On their Chinatown tour, you'll hear about prominent figures such as Dr. Sun Yat-sen and Yip Sang, and you will encounter a sampling of Vancouver's historic landmarks along the way.
    Photo by Michael Wheatley/age fotostock
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    Vancouver’s Bridges
    Don't leave Vancouver without crossing one of its bridges. Walk or bike over the art deco Burrard Bridge for panoramic views of False Creek and the Kitsilano district. Driving is the easiest way to traverse the three-lane Lions Gate Bridge, the gateway to Vancouver’s North Shore and Whistler. In North Vancouver, visit Capilano River Regional Park, home to the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge that will test your fear of heights. Lynn Canyon Park, also in North Vancouver, features another suspension bridge. Though smaller than Capilano, it's a fun—and free—alternative.
    Photo courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park/Tourism Vancouver